The Old-School $2 Bar Soap My Mom Swears Gets Any Stain Out

And she’s right.

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Fels Naptha Soap


There’s no day more nerve-wracking than the one that you decide to wear white jeans or a fancy shirt, bravely risking it all any time you eat, drink, or spend time outside. Moreover, there’s no moment more spirit-crushing than watching a dribble of coffee fall onto your pristine pant leg or a stray spaghetti noodle—drenched in marinara sauce, of course—slip off of your fork and onto your favorite white sweater. I’ve been a victim many times, and sadly the clothing item usually ended up sitting on top of the washing machine until I reluctantly attempted to use a stain remover. 

Stains are bound to happen, but that doesn’t make them any less irritating to deal with. Grease, makeup, sauce, mud, or coffee all can prove perilous for your clothing. Luckily, there are ways that you can get rid of stains effectively at home. Of course, there’s the classic combination of baking soda and vinegar. But for the hardest-to-clean stains, my mother taught me the only thing that works basically every time: Fels Naptha Soap. 

Fels Naptha Soap


BUY IT: $1.20;,

You can probably judge by the dated packaging and too-good-to-be-true price point of less than $2 that Fels Naptha Soap is old-school. I largely forgot it existed altogether until a stubborn stain on a brand-new dress made me so frustrated that I called my mother in near tears. That’s when she reminded me of the handy bar soap that makes quick work of grease, makeup, and the pesky red dirt that would accumulate on my brother’s baseball uniforms. “South Georgia clay is nearly, if not impossible, to get out of clothing,” she says. “A fellow baseball mom let me in on the secret.” 

What Is Fels Naptha?

Created by Fels & Company in Philadelphia in 1893, this laundry bar has been getting stains out of clothes for over 125 years. As for the namesake, it originally contained naptha, a flammable liquid, which was later taken out of the ingredient list for obvious reasons. Now, it can still be found in some big-box stores on the laundry detergent aisle, or selectively online, but don’t be surprised if it’s out of stock. In fact, my mother always stocks up when she comes across the stain-removing bar soap, after a bout of not being able to find it in stock. You can find it on Amazon’s top-selling list, but you’ll rarely find it for the usual under-$2 price due to demand. 

To use Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar & Stain Remover, simply dampen the stained area of clothing and lay it flat. Dampen the bar soap, and lather it onto the stain. You’ll begin noticing the stain changing color as the soap is lathered into the fabric. Let sit for 10 minutes, and then wash as usual. For the most stubborn stains, you can also use a coarse sponge or toothbrush to get the soap more deeply into the stain before washing. Additionally, you can grate the bar soap to turn it into a multi-use cleaning agent, from laundry detergent to surface cleaner. For stains on upholstery, make sure to wash away the soap thoroughly with warm water on a dish towel afterwards.

I’ve never had a stain that this under-$2 bar soap couldn’t get rid of, and that only proves further that mothers always know best. 

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